Newspapering the World: East Falls in Qatar

Going somewhere? Take your pic with a Local — it’s like planting a flag, with no commitment to colonize or defend your territory. Plus, we’ll even write up a story so we can all get a little something from your travels. 

EastFallsLocal Brian Kistler Qatar airport 2-2016

When Midvale resident (and Pack Walk regular) Brian Kistler told us his plans take an East Falls Local with him on a business trip through Qatar Airport, we were thrilled to think our little rag could make it all the way to the Middle East.

Until, of course, Brian explained Qatar is in Southwest Asia, duh.

Apparently, it’s a stop-over on the way to Singapore, where Brian has been on a business trip all week. Before leaving, he told us was going to take a newspaper picture by the “giant yellow teddy bear sculpture with a lamp on its head.”

Uhhh… what?  Seemed an improbably whimsical installation for a country known for scandalous wealth and appalling immigrant worker abuses. Qatar’s got a vibrant Western ex-pat community, though, and a “Vegas-esque” reputation for larger-than-life decadence. This freakish display, then,  seems to represent childish fetishes under the harsh light of day-to-day survival.

Either that, or the artist was haunted by childhood nightmares inspired by the Sta-Puft marshmallow man…

What does Qatar’s humongous teddy bear sculpture say to you? Don’t answer before you read these surprising trivia tidbits from our very first Local Roadtrip:

EastFallsLocal qatar resize

ELEVEN FUN FACTS ABOUT “UNTITLED (Lamp/Bear)” 

The button-eyed bear — which appears to have been impaled by a desk lamp — sits smack-dab in the middle of Qatar airport’s shopping mall. It’s no ordinary bear, but a famous (infamous?) work recently purchased for millions of dollars.

  1. The bear is made of cast bronze, not fur or foam.
  2. Sculpted by reknown NYC-based, Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer in 2005.
  3. This thing weighs 18 tons!
  4. Over 20 feet tall, yet!
  5. The design was first created as a one-foot-tall scale model, then manipulated in a CAD program to produce drawings the artist worked from to create the final form.
  6. Qatar Airport’s bear is the largest of three versions of this bear (the others are privately owned).
  7. The artist claims the piece was inspired by his own beloved childhood teddy bear.
  8. Christie’s listing suggests the piece celebrates common objects that define everyday life for a young child.
  9. Before arriving at Qatar Airport, the bear had been exhibited on Park Avenue, New York (in front of the Seagram Building).
  10. It’s a royal gift! Supposedly purchased by a member of Qatar’s royal family for 6.8 million dollars from a Christie’s auction.
  11. A discarded East Falls Local was found in the men’s room of the Qatar Airport on February 16, 2016.

We hope you enjoyed our quick, quirky peek at Qatar, complements of Brian Kistler.  Next time you’re traveling somewhere cool, take an East Falls Local with you, and share your story with friends and neighbors back home.

THANKS, BRIAN!

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